3 Positive Things for 7 Days

Recently on facebook a trend has been going around in which people have written 3 positive things every day for 7 days, and nominate others to do the same. It's been nice to read the small and large things people are experiencing and finding in their days to celebrate, and then last Monday I was nominated to do it!

My first thought was 'oh no, when am I going to have the chance to do that?!'. However, once I got over my cynical side, I thought 'why not, I'll give it a try'. I decided that rather than struggling to get onto facebook each day to write something up, I took a bunch of photos over 7 days of various positive things, and thought I'd post them altogether. So here are 21 positive things from my life over the last 7 days…

So, who do I nominate? Anyone who fancies having some fun for a week 🙂


Personality Tests, Strengthsfinders and All That….

I recently read an article in Wired magazine about 'Echo Nest'. Rather than spending the time telling you about them and the article, here's a link to it! Don't click here until you read my blog though!

When discussing some research that has been conducted regarding how the music genres we individually enjoy can say something about our political preference, I saw the following which I found it fascinating…

I know some people hate things like this. Studies and research that tries to understand what people may be like, and seek to define patterns of thought and behaviour. For example, the Meyers Briggs Personality Profiling, Strengthsfinder Tests, and well as other personality or 'type' studies. Many people put these kinds of things down saying that they don't want to be labelled. I totally agree. I wouldn't want to be labelled in my political stance due to my playlist on my iPod.

However, I do fully see the benefit of these things. The truth is, there are so many people on this planet, and there are patterns of behaviour and traits that we may share with others, that is clear. God has made us uniquely different from every other human on the planet – that I agree with wholeheartedly – and I do see a benefit in helping each other understand how different people interact. Sure, there are a limited amount of Meyers Briggs types, and only 35(ish?!) Strengthsfinder 'talent themes', but as we do these tests, studies, and discussions with one another, it can open up so many learning opportunities, how to work with one another, how to help each other, how we may or may not react according to our patterns of thought and behaviour we share with others.

We don't need to run our lives by these things, but let's at least listen to what they have to say about each other and see what we can learn from them. They don't have to define us, the answers don't need to send us in a certain direction in our lives but they might just help in those meetings or conversations where we disagree or have a problem to resolve.

Want to know a secret opinion I have? A long as you promise not to tell anyone! I would actually hazard a guess and say that many of us could generally figure out the people in our lives who are the 'types' of people who don't like this kind of stuff. Through patterns of their thought and behaviour, I'm sure we could tell that they hate these studies without asking them directly about this kind of thing. Ouch, I don't think that is something they'd want to hear, so don't tell them!

What so you think about these kinds of things? Love Meyers Briggs? Can't stand the Strengthsfinder Test? Have you had great or awful experiences with them? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let's keep the convo going.


Yaya Toure | Small Things | Relating | Leaving

Yesterday over the sports news pages was the story about Yaya Toure, the Manchester City footballer from the Ivory Coast. The news stated that he might be leaving the club because the club showed him a 'lack of respect' on his birthday. Despite giving him a cake, and apparently tweeting about it, that simply wasn't enough for Toure, who said that the club didn't even shake his hand.

In total honesty, at first I found this hilarious. I thought 'what?! – this guy is paid thousands each week to play football and an annual cake, I think they give him enough! Surely missing a handshake isn't that bad!' Maybe you think or thought the same. Since then, a couple of thoughts came into my head…

1. Relationships matter. More than money, you can be paid as much as you like, but here is a classic example of the truth of the importance of human connection and relationship. Whether a millionaire, or somebody with very little, we all need relationships and connections with others. You can't buy loyalty and relationship. I know Manchester City is ultimately the organisation Toure works for, but I bet some reaching out relationally from the clubs officials would nt have gone amiss. In many ways ahead of the money we are paid, we seek human relationship and want to know that others care for me.

2. It's the little things that count. It's clearly the little thing of a handshake and a smile that counts for Yaya. And for us, it's the little things that count. The cup of tea made in the morning, the bringing in of biscuits to the meeting, the little present on a Friday when you come home from work, the taking to the airport, the asking 'how is your family?', the buying of a book because you 'saw it and thought of them'. Small things count.

2. People come and people go. What some people would not even consider as an issue (I struggle to imagine myself leaving my place of work because nobody shook my hand on my birthday!), some see it as a reason to leave. It got me thinking about why people leave organisations, groups, churches, and jobs. And there are so many reasons. What is a reason to leave for one person may be a reason to join for another. When somebody may leave a company for a particular reason, it may not even enter the mind for another. People come, and people go. Something tells me that not getting his hand shook is not the only reason Yaya Toure wants to leave Manchester City, there's bound to be other reasons too. When people want to leave and have made up their mind, there's not much you can do about it, so at this point, let people go and save yourself the worry, fear, anxiety and pain of it all.

What do you make of this? Have Manchester City been harsh and neglecting of Toure, or should he dust himself off and get over it? How important are relationships and the small things?

Talk about your idea

At some point along your journey of seeing something you'd like to do or achieve come a reality, you'll need to talk about it with someone else.

I hate that moment. It's a moment of reality. It's one of those gates you need to get through, and you're not sure if its locked or open-able until you reach it. Because when you start telling someone about it, the doors of questions are opened.

People ask questions. It's annoying isn't it? Particularly if they are interested in what you're doing. In honesty, we often think of questions as the things that come from the 'haters' or 'naysayers'. But more and more I am realising that we need question askers in our lives. It sounds stupid, to say it, but I hate receiving questions, as a bit of my nature responds with an internal shout of “don't you think I'm good enough?! Don't you think I haven't thought about that?! What do a YOU know anyway?!“. I get defensive, when really I need to get over myself and answer them like a real man.

Questions mean details, details that maybe you have thought about but ignored so far, or details that you hadn't considered and mean that here are holes in your idea that need filling. But they are important. If you don't ask questions at the early stages, you'll have to face them later, when it may be too late, as you've put too much money into it, or it's passed the deadline, or the opportunity has left.

Questions now save a lot of time later. So get telling someone about your idea, and do your utmost to not get defensive, but be ready to listen, learn, and get your details hat on.


Your time is Communal.

I read somewhere recently that 'your time is communal“. Fascinating idea.

Whether married, single, dating or whatever, the time you have is communal. It is actually owned by many, it is not your own. We all have people in our lives that are important to us, whether family, friends, work colleagues. And what comes with the territory of this is that they take up time, they demand time of us. This is ok, if we were to not give others our time we'd be missing out on a massive chunk of what life is all about.

So when we are trying to pursue something of our own – an idea, a new business venture, a new hobby that we do alone, a 'side project', our private devotional times with God- it can be really hard to find the time to do it. We find that days, weeks, months, years even can go by without us doing anything because we have not factored in the time to do it, we feel that we simply don't have the time.

in many ways you're right, we don't have the time, because time is communal. However, we can find some time that is not communal. Right now. I'm keen to write blogs when possible. I'd hate to do this when I first get home from work, because I want to spend time with Heather (my wife). But in the morning, nice and early I tend to wake up before she does, and this is a perfect time to write blogs, because she does not feel like I'm cheating her of her time.

When does that time come for you? Saturday mornings? 5am during the week? 11pm during the week? Sunday nights? Find a time that works best for you, and best for the others who own your time, and make your side project/devotional time/hobby/new business happen.


How to approach strangers.

I recently blogged about a photographer called Brandon Stanton. He has a blog called Humans of New York, on which he take photos of people on the streets of New York, and asks them about themselves, and their life. Take a read of that post here.

Today a video popped up on my news feed, a segment from a lecture he gave at a university in Dublin, about how he approaches strangers, the importance of helping people feel at ease and how you can draw the most and best out of people in a loving, caring way. Interesting video, worth 15 minutes if you have it 🙂

At church most weeks I'm approaching strangers who are first-time visitors to our church. Stuff like this video is really helpful in helping me get better at it, maybe it's helpful for you too.

People Are Important

I've just discovered a blog/art project called 'Humans of New York'. Brandon Stanton takes pictures of people in New York and posts them on his blog, sometimes with snippets of conversations he's had with them.

There is something wonderful about this simple idea and website. God loves people. And seeing these humans of all types, shapes, sizes and genres reminds me of Gods intense, unncomparable, neverending, untamed passionate love for His creation. Each one of them. With their stories, their lives, their personalities, their dreams and desires.

When us humans may see eccentricity, or awkwardness, or dare I say it – ugliness – God sees beauty, uniqueness, individual and sees how they are created to be. Occasionally I have these moments when I look at people and catch a glimpse of how God sees them, often when I'm on the train, or in a cafe just watching the world go by. I want those moments to be my lifestyle, not just momentary.

His ways and thoughts are are far higher and greater than my ways and my thoughts, that's for sure.

Take just 5 minutes now to flick through Humans of New York and ask God not for a moment of seeing through His eyes, but ask Him for a shift in your mind to live a lifestyle through His eyes.

People are important. Let's remember that.